After the Miami Dolphins lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, one thing stuck in my mind. They need better coaching. It’s time to start thinking about the next head coach.
Don’t get me wrong here. I really like Dan Campbell. A lot. But Campbell is not ready. He is a motivator and a very good one. There is little doubt that his elevation to head coach has changed the mentality of this football team. They are what he wanted them to be, more physical and more aggressive. That isn’t enough.
When you look over the team it’s easy to understand that Campbell was dealt a bad hand. Lack of linebacker depth, poor offensive line play, cornerbacks that are not able to play aggressive at the line, and more importantly an offensive coordinator that has no innovation.
So then you may ask, why get rid of Campbell? The simplest answer is the fact that Campbell can’t bring in the top talented up and coming assistant coaches. He lacks the experience and the pedigree to entice others to join his staff and at season’s end this is something that must happen.
While watching the game on Sunday I was very pleased with what I saw out of Lou Anarumo. The defense has done a 180* turn since Kevin Coyle exited the team. They are getting pressure up front and Ndamukong Suh is playing exactly like we all thought he would. This can’t be understated. The Dolphins defense is better than it was the first month of the season. Anarumo is an exception though.
Defensively the Dolphins are void of talent outside of Reshad Jones, Suh, Brent Grimes, and to a degree Jelani Jenkins. Cameron Wake’s loss is a huge blow but let’s be real for a second, Olivier Vernon has stepped up and so has Derrick Shelby. That’s on Anarumo. I like what I have seen from the defense despite breakdowns the last few weeks. I attribute that more to lack of depth and quality starters opposite Grimes and at the linebacker position.
Offense is an entirely different monster. There is no reason that Miami isn’t moving the football. Sans one. Bill Lazor.
Lazor’s offense is predictable at best. Time and again we see Ryan Tannehill statuesque in the pocket, taking hits. We see empty backfield sets knowing that Miami is going to pass and making it worse we know that Tannehill isn’t going to move out of the pocket. Tannehill is really good out of the pocket. Yet Lazor keeps him where he isn’t strong.
Compounding the decision to keep Tannehill in the pocket is the offensive line play. Jason Fox is a waste of a roster spot. Dallas Thomas can’t hold a pass protection block and the only thing consistent about the teams pass blocking is that it’s poor. Yet Lazor keeps Tannehill upright in the fold to take hits repeatedly.
Last week Dan Campbell said he would like to see Tannehill run more and early in Sunday’s game it appeared we might see more of that. The game dictated it but Lazor pulled away as quickly as he abandoned the run. Miami opened the game with two runs of 21 yards combined and the Dallas defense didn’t have an answer. Instead of keeping the bruising attack moving, Lazor began calling off-tackle runs and slid away from the running game as the game progressed.
This falls in my opinion on the head coach. Campbell needs to get into the face of Lazor and tell him they need to be physical yet we don’t see that. At season’s end, Campbell would need to change his coaches and I don’t see that happening to the satisfaction of the fan base or the organization.
Campbell is young and inspiring and while the team is rallying behind him there are too many questions ahead to think that Campbell can get the job done on his own. Mike Tannenbaum could bring in some assistants but how good those coaches would be is unknown.
Then there is the decision to punt down by 10 in the 4th quarter.
The Dolphins opted to punt on 4th and six from their own 47 yard line. In most cases this would make sense in a tight game but this game wasn’t tight at this point. This was a ten point deficit, a two score game. The decision to punt put the game on the shoulders of a tired and worn down defense and Dallas was able to eat clock and move the ball into Dolphins territory. The decision to punt is one that can be second guessed.
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Had the Dolphins stopped Dallas and scored a touchdown, it would be one of those great calls we talk about but the Dolphins didn’t and the Cowboys walked away winning a game they likely shouldn’t have. Little by little we are seeing these minor mistakes in coaching that put the team in a bad position.
Campbell has the support of his team but can the Dolphins really gamble on him growing into the position over the next three seasons? Does Campbell have inside of him the ability to coach this team into the playoffs if he get’s different talent on the roster? Maybe, maybe not. Dolphins fans are starved for a game changing head coach. A coach that is going to bring not just a change in culture but real change on the field.
What the Dolphins need is someone who can hire assistants that will test the players and test opponents on every play. Bill Lazor we now know is not that guy so, as I said earlier, it falls on the shoulders of Dan Campbell to get a coaching staff that can get the job done and frankly, I’m not sure he can. And I’m not sure Miami can wait for him to earn the respect in the league to bring them in either.
Unfortunately, if Dan Campbell stays, there needs to be a lot of changes within the coaching ranks but I wonder if things wouldn’t simply stay the same. It’s time for Tannenbaum and Stephen Ross to start looking ahead at who can run this team.